Nine slices $15m more from Fair­fax cuts

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS - STEPHEN BROOK

Nine has found an ex­tra $15 mil­lion in cost sav­ings as Fair­fax Me­dia ceased to ex­ist yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the tele­vi­sion net­work’s takeover of the 177-year-old pub­lisher, while the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the com­bined en­tity em­pha­sised that he val­ued jour­nal­ism as well as en­ter­tain­ment.

The com­pany has al­ready said it will axe 144 roles, af­fect­ing 92 peo­ple, ahead of the $4 bil­lion merged com­pany’s first day of trad­ing on Mon­day.

Nine En­ter­tain­ment CEO Hugh Marks, who will run the new com­pany, told all em­ploy­ees that it would be Aus­tralia’s largest lo­cally owned me­dia com­pany.

“The Nine we come in to on Mon­day is the home of great Aus­tralian sto­ry­telling, which en­gages mil­lions of peo­ple every week, and a busi­ness that col­lec­tively spends more than $850m a year in­vest­ing in Aus­tralian con­tent,” Mr Marks said in a staff note.

“This is some­thing for each of us to be proud of. And again not be­cause we are the same but be­cause we can be dif­fer­ent.”

Mr Marks pointed out that Nine would value its en­ter­tain­ment her­itage but also Fair­fax’s jour­nal­is­tic her­itage. “Great con­tent means any num­ber of things at Nine: it can be a TV show like The Block, which draws mil­lions of view­ers every night and cap­tures water-cooler dis­cus­sion, or it can be ground­break­ing jour­nal­ism such as Adele Fer­gu­son’s re­port­ing of bank­ing mal­prac­tice that drives com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion on both a na­tional and lo­cal level and forces the sec­tor to re­form.

“It can be great en­ter­tain­ment con­tent like Young Shel­don or Bil­lions, which is de­liv­ered to the de­vice of the au­di­ence’s choos­ing on plat­forms like Chan­nel 9, 9 Now and Stan, or can be a ra­dio pro­gram such as Neil Mitchell’s on 3AW, which sets the agenda and drives de­bate across an en­tire city like Mel­bourne.”

The com­pany said it had al­ready re­alised $35m of syn­ergy costs, and would make $30m more, pre­dom­i­nantly from du­pli­cate cor­po­rate costs, dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing and sales.

On Mon­day the com­pany re­vealed it would have four broad groups, Nine’s tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion busi­ness, dig­i­tal TV stream­ing ser­vice Stan, the Fair­fax met­ro­pol­i­tan mast­heads within a pub­lish­ing di­vi­sion and lo­cal and re­gional news­pa­pers Aus­tralian Com­mu­nity Me­dia and Print­ing.

Fair­fax Me­dia chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Hy­wood left the com­pany yes­ter­day, as did a group of other ex­ec­u­tives in­clud­ing chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer David Housego, group di­rec­tor of strat­egy and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment Dhruv Gupta, hu­man re­sources lead Michelle Wil­liams, gen­eral coun­sel Gail Ham­bly and di­rec­tor of com­muni- cations Brad Hatch. Fair­fax’s Vic­to­rian pub­lisher, Mark Hawthorne, also left yes­ter­day.

Fair­fax chair­man Nick Fal­loon and di­rec­tors Patrick All­away and Mickie Rosen joined the Nine board, while Nine non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors David Gyn­gell and Janette Ken­dall de­parted.

Nine is also now the ma­jor­ity share­holder in dig­i­tal prop­erty list­ing busi­ness Do­main and will own 54.5 per cent of ASX-listed ra­dio group Mac­quarie Me­dia.

Source: Bloomberg

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